Co-operative ownership – the liberal way


I have written before that co-ops and similar ventures are part of the rich tapestry of a market economy. After all, before the days of statutory regulation, the Stock Exchange was a mutual – you can’t get closer to the market economy than that. Co-ops and mutuals certainly have their limitations – access to capital and corporate governance being the two main ones. People complain about profit-making banks being owned by shareholders but mutuals can be captured by management and pay poor interest rates to savers and co-ops can be captured by a senior management clique without any possibility of facilitating change. There is a big literature on all this and I hope that Osborne’s team has read it. Neverthelessm, mutuals and co-ops definitely have their place. Three cheers for George Osborne’s attempts to create co-ops in the public sector then? Not yet.

Philip Booth is Senior Academic Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He is also Director of the Vinson Centre and Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. He also holds the position of (interim) Director of Catholic Mission at St. Mary’s having previously been Director of Research and Public Engagement and Dean of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. From 2002-2016, Philip was Academic and Research Director (previously, Editorial and Programme Director) at the IEA. From 2002-2015 he was Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Federal Studies at the University of Kent and Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, University of Notre Dame, Australia. Previously, Philip Booth worked for the Bank of England as an adviser on financial stability issues and he was also Associate Dean of Cass Business School and held various other academic positions at City University. He has written widely, including a number of books, on investment, finance, social insurance and pensions as well as on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is Deputy Editor of Economic Affairs. Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an honorary member of the Society of Actuaries of Poland. He has previously worked in the investment department of Axa Equity and Law and was been involved in a number of projects to help develop actuarial professions and actuarial, finance and investment professional teaching programmes in Central and Eastern Europe. Philip has a BA in Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD from City University.